Yoga and Mindfulness

This past weekend I took what turned out to be the most raucous yoga class I've ever experienced.
Five minutes before the scheduled start time, more men than women were lined up outside the yoga studio, stretching and looking very intense. This should have been my first clue that we were in for a serious workout – well, that and the fact that the class was termed Power Yoga. Then I spotted the instructor (who I’ll call Mike) and had a pretty good idea of what we were in for. He's also a personal trainer at the gym and is quite talkative, energetic, and given to bursting into song. All good, just not your stereotypical serene yoga instructor. Mindfulness note: Notice, don’t judge. Let go of assumptions. Practice "beginner's mind".


How to Bring More Beauty Into Your Life

Shortly before 8:00 a.m. on a brisk January work day in 2007, a man dressed in jeans, a T-shirt, and a baseball cap began to play the violin in a Washington DC Metro station. Over 1000 people passed by in the next 45 minutes, during which time the musician played six Bach pieces, his open violin case at his feet with a few coins and dollar bills placed inside.

Out of the multitude of passersby, a mere six people stopped to listen to the performer. 27 individuals dropped money in the case but proceeded to walk on at their normal pace. Before concluding his concert (to no applause), the man collected $32 and change -- not counting the $20 donated by one woman who recognized the musician's identity.


The Key Ingredient to Good Health and Well-Being

“I don’t know what your destiny will be, but one thing I know: the only ones among you who will be really happy are those who have sought and found how to serve.” (Albert Schweitzer)

It turns out that those who serve are a whole lot more likely to be physically healthy, too, down to the cellular level. Researchers at the University of North Carolina and UCLA recently discovered that people who scored high on the sort of happiness associated with meaning, defined as devotion to a cause bigger than oneself (eudaimonic well-being), had low levels of inflammatory gene expression and high levels of antiviral and antibody gene expression. 


14 Ways to Manage Anxiety

The majority of our emotional responses result from how we interpret a situation. People go to amusement parks to be intentionally scared out of their wits on roller coasters. We term the heart-pounding and adrenalin rush experienced in such situations “excitement”, but if we endure the same sensations due to an unplanned event, such as narrowly escaping being hit by a car, we probably wouldn’t consider this pleasant.

The difference lies partially in how competent we perceive ourselves to be, and such a feeling is not developed in a vacuum. We need to seek out challenges and adventure to increase our belief that we can play well the hand that life deals us. Here are some tools to help pave the way:


Why and How to Forgive

Life is precarious, people aren’t perfect, and so it’s inevitable that at some point we’ll be hurt or injured emotionally by somebody’s words or actions. The offense may be something relatively mild (making a thoughtless remark) or horrendous (child abuse).

The question is how do we heal? Should we forgive, and if so, why? And how? And what does forgiveness mean, anyway?


Essential Life Lessons

So, another school year begins, and students once again apply themselves to their studies, vying for top grades and possibly a spot at a prized university.

Regardless of our academic achievements, we learned (or should have learned) many important lessons in school. 


Tips for Inner Peace

“Peace. It does not mean to be in a place where there is no noise, trouble or hard work. It means to be in the midst of those things and still be calm in your heart. “ (Unknown)

We all want peace in our lives, right? This sounds like a no-brainer, but the truth is that many of us have ambivalence about peace. We have all sorts of preconceived notions. For instance, a devout Christian friend once divulged to me that she wasn’t wild about going to heaven, because she didn’t relish the idea of endless singing by celestial choirs.

To clear up some misconceptions about peace: 


How to Strengthen Your Intuitive Powers

If we take an attitude of curiosity and open-mindedness towards our feelings rather than being self-critical, a whole new world can open up, including greater access to our intuition.
We all have intuition, but in many cases our gifts of insight have been stifled by our getting caught up in our thoughts, belief systems, judgments, and worries about external circumstances.

Strengthening our intuition can bring us: 


4 Reasons to Practice Self-Compassion

“I’m too old not to be on my own side.” (Maya Angelou)
Nor are you ever too young to be on your own side. Developing self-compassion offers far-reaching benefits.

1) For instance, you might think that taking a stern approach with yourself about your smoking habit would help to achieve your aim. However, a recent study revealed that smokers who offer themselves self-compassion rather than self-condemnation were able to reduce their smoking more than control subjects (Kelly et al, 2010).

In fact, those individuals who weren’t particularly ready to decrease their smoking or who were especially self-critical actually showed the most rapid reduction in their smoking after practicing self-compassion. So, if you think that you’re not “motivated” enough for self-compassion to work, or if you tend to be extremely hard on yourself, take heart -- self-compassion may make a huge difference in your life, and more quickly than you expect.


Breaking Free From Emotional Perfectionism

Are you an emotional perfectionist?

Do any of the following statements ring true for you?

I should always be happy and upbeat.

I should never feel depressed or anxious.

I should be able to snap out of a “negative” state of mind.

Often we have an idealistic view of happy and successful people. We believe that such individuals constantly have a smile on their face, see only the best in life, and are never bothered by uncomfortable feelings.